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Can Music Affect the Way Beer Tastes?

Kelsey Chesterfield

You’re out with some friends or maybe enjoying a nice craft beer at home from your most recent Craft Beer Club shipment. Regardless of where you’re relaxing with a cold one, there’s bound to be music playing. So can your choice in music actually affect the way you perceive your beer?

According to a scientific study conducted in Brussels, yes it can!

Before you call us crazy, hear us out.

Music affects and activates numerous regions of the brain, from the auditory cortex perceiving rhythm and tone, and emotional reactions in the amygdala, to the motor cortex in charge of movement and dancing, and even the prefrontal cortex judging satisfaction and expectations. With so many areas of the brain participating in our experience of listening to music, it now makes it more plausible that it could also affect how we take in our surroundings.

So let’s put craft beer back into the equation. Scientists in Belgium decided to put this theory to the test in which participants were instructed to taste a beer and then rate their experience. What the participants didn’t know was that the beer never changed. Each time they were handed a ‘new’ beer to taste, it was, in fact, the same exact beer they had just tasted - the only difference being the music played in the background. Here’s what they found.

First, the beer was tasted without music. Then again with various genres of music such as lighter, playful Disney songs, pop, punk, evolving into deep bass and resonant songs. The results showed that while listening to the lighter music, the participants recorded the beer tasting sweeter, while heavier songs were gauged as more bitter and stronger in alcohol.

Data was also collected based on volume level. This also showed correlating impressions - quieter music provided a higher rate of positive reactions to their beer’s taste, where as louder music had a higher percentage of negative responses. Now, it also depends on the person and their individual taste in music preference.

Going back to how music has an affect on multiple parts of our brain, it suddenly doesn’t seem so crazy that you could transfer how you feel about the music playing to the perceived taste of the beer in your hand! Still not convinced? Next time you open your monthly Craft Beer Club shipment, conduct your own experiment! Play a variety of songs from different genres and pay attention to how the music affects your taste buds.